Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hailey government vote set for May 23

City manager system proposed

Express Staff Writer

Former Hailey Mayor Al Lindley has lived up to a promise he made in January to gather enough signatures to force the city to ask voters if they want to change their form of government.

Lindley has suggested the city should switch to a city manager/city council form of government. Hailey currently operates under a more traditional mayor/city council form of government.

At a public meeting Jan. 9, Lindley asked the City Council to consider making a resolution that would have placed the question of switching Hailey's form of government to a vote of city residents. At that time, Lindley said he would pursue an initiative petition to put the question to a vote if the council chose not to make such a resolution. The council decided against it at their next meeting on Jan. 23.

As a first step, Lindley was required to gather 20 signatures to begin the initiative petition process. A preliminary filings with the signatures is required under state law.

Once Lindley satisfied that requirement, which he did when he presented the required signatures at a City Council meeting on March 27, he was then required to gather another 17 signatures. The same people who signed Lindley's preliminary petition could also sign his second and final petition.

The required 17 signatures is a figure equal to 20 percent of the number of voters who participated in the last city election. Only 85 votes were cast in the city's November 2005 election.

For the change in government to be approved, only a simple majority of Hailey voters would have to vote in its favor.

Because Lindley was able to have his initiative petition certified as valid by 5 p.m. Friday, March 31, the vote on whether or not to change Hailey's form of government will be put to a vote on May 23 rather than Aug. 1. The city requires an advance filing to prepare for and announce the election.

Sample ballots for the May 23 election are now available for viewing at Hailey City Hall.

A yes vote on the matter would set into motion a series of events. Within 60 days of the change being approved, a special election to select a new five-member city council would have to take place.

It would then be up to the new city council to select and hire a city manager who would take on the chief executive role formerly held by the mayor. The city would continue to have a mayor—appointed by the new city council or, if the council chooses, by a vote of the electorate—but that individual would have a greatly diminished role in the new government.

In a related matter, Mayor Susan McBryant and members of the City Council discussed Monday the possibility of hiring a new Hailey city administrator. The key difference between a city manager and a city administrator is administrators are hired and have their duties delegated to them by the mayor.

McBryant said the council will need to decide on specific aspects such as a hiring timeline, where the city should canvass for potential job candidates and what the position's job description should look like.

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